Ask HN: Phil-of-lang question: What do LLMs mean for indexicals?
In my youth, I was eyeball-deep in analytic philosophy, and I remember that so-called indexicals -- 'you', 'I', etc -- are (or were) philosophically mysterious. This was often explained as the difference between seeing a trail of sugar in the grocery store, and recognizing that your cart was the one with the leaking bag of sugar. (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/indexicals/)
Like everyone else, I'm agog at ChatGPT, but the part that has me nearly calling up my old professors is, "how, when I tell ChatGPT 'you are writing a screenplay', does it 'know' (in whatever level of scare-quotes are necessary here) that it is writing the screenplay?
This, to me, feels like the most urgent of the many questions ChatGPT raises, but I'm unsure of how even to structure the worry into a proper question, let alone how to answer it. Put another way, I'm less concerned about the putative personhood of ChatGPT (it most certainly is not a person) than I am its possible language agency -- it status as a speaker -- which is a distinct question, and, with regard to language, would (at least to my cursory and obsolete understanding) be less settled.
Any ML-savvy phil nerds on here with a good way of marshalling these worries into something coherent?